A new era of planetary exploration: what we discovered on the far side of the moon
The far side of the Moon is of great importance due to its interesting geological formations, but this hidden side also blocks all the electromagnetic noise from human activity, making it an ideal place to build radio telescopes.space.com
Richard Branson lands first blow against 'star war' rivals as Virgin Galactic nears lift-off
Sir Richard Branson plans to make astronautical history this weekend by becoming the first billionaire in space If his schedule holds, the 70-year-old Virgin Galactic founder will lift off on Sunday afternoon from a runway near the small town of Truth and Consequences in New Mexico on the maiden passenger flight of his company's SpaceShipTwo spaceplane. Dubbed the VSS Unity, it will be lifted to about 50,000ft by a specially made aeroplane, WhiteKnightTwo, before detaching from the mother ship,news.yahoo.com
To safely explore the solar system and beyond, spaceships need to go faster – nuclear-powered rockets may be the answer
Over the last 50 years, a lot has changed in rocketry. The fuel that powers spaceflight might finally be changing too. CSA-Printstock/DIgital Vision Vectors via Getty ImagesWith dreams of Mars on the minds of both NASA and Elon Musk, long-distance crewed missions through space are coming. But you might be surprised to learn that modern rockets don’t go all that much faster than the rockets of the past. There are a lot of reasons that a faster spaceship is a better one, and nuclear-powered rockets are a way to do this. They offer many benefits over traditional fuel-burning rockets or modern solar-powered electric rockets, but there have been only eight U.S. space launches carrying nuclear reactors in the last 40 years. However, in 2019 the laws regulating nuclear space flights changed and work has already begun on this next generation of rockets. Why the need for speed? The first step of a space journey involves the use of launch rockets to get a ship into orbit. These are the large fuel-burning engines people imagine when they think of rocket launches and are not likely to go away in the foreseeable future due to the constraints of gravity. It is once a ship reaches space that things get interesting. To escape Earth’s gravity and reach deep space destinations, ships need additional acceleration. This is where nuclear systems come into play. If astronauts want to explore anything farther than the Moon and perhaps Mars, they are going to need to be going very very fast. Space is massive, and everything is far away. There are two reasons faster rockets are better for long-distance space travel: safety and time. Astronauts on a trip to Mars would be exposed to very high levels of radiation which can cause serious long-term health problems such as cancer and sterility. Radiation shielding can help, but it is extremely heavy, and the longer the mission, the more shielding is needed. A better way to reduce radiation exposure is to simply get where you are going quicker. But human safety isn’t the only benefit. As space agencies probe farther out into space, it is important to get data from unmanned missions as soon as possible. It took Voyager-2 12 years just to reach Neptune, where it snapped some incredible photos as it flew by. If Voyager-2 had a faster propulsion system, astronomers could have had those photos and the information they contained years earlier. Speed is good. But why are nuclear systems faster? The Saturn V rocket was 363 feet tall and mostly just a gas tank. Mike Jetzer/heroicrelics.org, CC BY-NC-ND Systems of today Once a ship has escaped Earth’s gravity, there are three important aspects to consider when comparing any propulsion system: Thrust – how fast a system can accelerate a ship Mass efficiency – how much thrust a system can produce for a given amount of fuel Energy density – how much energy a given amount of fuel can produce Today, the most common propulsion systems in use are chemical propulsion – that is, regular fuel-burning rockets – and solar-powered electric propulsion systems. Chemical propulsion systems provide a lot of thrust, but chemical rockets aren’t particularly efficient, and rocket fuel isn’t that energy-dense. The Saturn V rocket that took astronauts to the Moon produced 35 million Newtons of force at liftoff and carried 950,000 gallons of fuel. While most of the fuel was used in getting the rocket into orbit, the limitations are apparent: It takes a lot of heavy fuel to get anywhere. Electric propulsion systems generate thrust using electricity produced from solar panels. The most common way to do this is to use an electrical field to accelerate ions, such as in the Hall thruster. These devices are commonly used to power satellites and can have more than five times higher mass efficiency than chemical systems. But they produce much less thrust – about three Newtons, or only enough to accelerate a car from 0-60 mph in about two and a half hours. The energy source – the Sun – is essentially infinite but becomes less useful the farther away from the Sun the ship gets. One of the reasons nuclear-powered rockets are promising is because they offer incredible energy density. The uranium fuel used in nuclear reactors has an energy density that is 4 million times higher than hydrazine, a typical chemical rocket propellant. It is much easier to get a small amount of uranium to space than hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel. So what about thrust and mass efficiency? The first nuclear thermal rocket was built in 1967 and is seen in the background. In the foreground is the protective casing that would hold the reactor. NASA/Wikipedia Two options for nuclear Engineers have designed two main types of nuclear systems for space travel. The first is called nuclear thermal propulsion. These systems are very powerful and moderately efficient. They use a small nuclear fission reactor – similar to those found in nuclear submarines – to heat a gas, such as hydrogen, and that gas is then accelerated through a rocket nozzle to provide thrust. Engineers from NASA estimate that a mission to Mars powered by nuclear thermal propulsion would be 20%-25% shorter than a trip on a chemical-powered rocket. Nuclear thermal propulsion systems are more than twice as efficient as chemical propulsion systems – meaning they generate twice as much thrust using the same amount of propellant mass – and can deliver 100,000 Newtons of thrust. That’s enough force to get a car from 0-60 mph in about a quarter of a second. The second nuclear-based rocket system is called nuclear electric propulsion. No nuclear electric systems have been built yet, but the idea is to use a high-power fission reactor to generate electricity that would then power an electrical propulsion system like a Hall thruster. This would be very efficient, about three times better than a nuclear thermal propulsion system. Since the nuclear reactor could create a lot of power, many individual electric thrusters could be operated simultaneously to generate a good amount of thrust. Nuclear electric systems would be the best choice for extremely long-range missions because they don’t require solar energy, have very high efficiency and can give relatively high thrust. But while nuclear electric rockets are extremely promising, there are still a lot of technical problems to solve before they are put into use. An artist’s impression of what a nuclear thermal ship built to take humans to Mars could look like. John Frassanito & Associates/Wikipedia Why aren’t there nuclear powered rockets yet? Nuclear thermal propulsion systems have been studied since the 1960s but have not yet flown in space. Regulations first imposed in the U.S. in the 1970s essentially required case-by-case examination and approval of any nuclear space project from multiple government agencies and explicit approval from the president. Along with a lack of funding for nuclear rocket system research, this environment prevented further improvement of nuclear reactors for use in space. That all changed when the Trump administration issued a presidential memorandum in August 2019. While upholding the need to keep nuclear launches as safe as possible, the new directive allows for nuclear missions with lower amounts of nuclear material to skip the multi-agency approval process. Only the sponsoring agency, like NASA, for example, needs to certify that the mission meets safety recommendations. Larger nuclear missions would go through the same process as before. Along with this revision of regulations, NASA received US0 million in the 2019 budget to develop nuclear thermal propulsion. DARPA is also developing a space nuclear thermal propulsion system to enable national security operations beyond Earth orbit. After 60 years of stagnation, it’s possible a nuclear-powered rocket will be heading to space within a decade. This exciting achievement will usher in a new era of space exploration. People will go to Mars and science experiments will make new discoveries all across our solar system and beyond. [You’re too busy to read everything. We get it. That’s why we’ve got a weekly newsletter. Sign up for good Sunday reading. ]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Iain Boyd, University of Colorado Boulder. Read more:Never mind SpaceX’s Falcon 9, where’s my Millennium Falcon?How SpaceX lowered costs and reduced barriers to spaceMining the moon for rocket fuel to get us to Mars Iain Boyd receives funding from the following sources, none of it is related to space propulsion: Office of Naval Research Lockheed-Martin Northrop-Grumman L3-Harrisnews.yahoo.com
US, China consulted on safety as their crafts headed to Mars
A visitor to an exhibition looks at a display with a replica of the Chinese Mars Rover of the Tianwen-1 spacecraft in Beijing on March 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)BEIJING – As their respective spacecrafts headed to Mars, China and the U.S. held consultations earlier this year in a somewhat unusual series of exchanges between the rivals. China's National Space Agency confirmed Wednesday that it had working-level meetings and communications with NASA from January to March “to ensure the flight safety" of their crafts. U.S. law bans almost all contacts between NASA and China over concerns about technology theft and the secretive, military-backed nature of China’s space program. China's Tianwen-1 is orbiting Mars in preparation for a landing in May or June.
Mars rover sends back grinding, squealing sounds of driving
7, 2021 photo provided by NASA shows tire tracks left by the Mars Perseverance rover. The rover has sent back the first-ever sounds of driving on the red planet. “If I heard these sounds driving my car, I’d pull over and call for a tow,” Dave Gruel, an engineer on the rover team, said in a written NASA statement. This second mike didn't pick up any sounds of the rover's arrival at Mars, but managed to record the first test drive March 4. The driving audio contains a unexpected high-pitched scratching noise, according to NASA.
China, Russia agree to build lunar research station
China and Russia said they will build a lunar research station, possibly on the moon's surface, marking the start of a new era in space cooperation between the two countries. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)BEIJING – China and Russia said they will build a lunar research station, possibly on the moon's surface, marking the start of a new era in space cooperation between the two countries. A statement posted on the website of the China National Space Administration Wednesday said the International Lunar Research Station would also be open to use by other countries, but gave no timeline for its construction. Russia is a participant in the International Space Station but its space program has been somewhat eclipsed by those of China, the U.S., India and others. AdChina has planned four crewed missions this year to work on its first permanent orbiting space station, the core module of which could be launched as soon as next month.
NASA's new Mars rover hits dusty red road, 1st trip 21 feet
This photo made available by NASA was taken during the first drive of the Perseverance rover on Mars on Thursday, March 4, 2021. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP)CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA’s newest Mars rover hit the dusty red road this week, putting 21 feet on the odometer in its first test drive. The Perseverance rover ventured from its landing position Thursday, two weeks after setting down on the red planet to seek signs of past life. AdPerseverance — NASA's biggest and most elaborate rover yet — became the ninth U.S. spacecraft to successfully land on Mars on Feb. 18. China hopes to land its smaller rover — currently orbiting the red planet — in another few months.
Biden signals support to replace war power authority
The U.S. has blamed the militia for numerous attacks targeting U.S. personnel and interests in Iraq in the past. But several leading members of Congress, including members in Biden’s own party, denounced the strikes — the first military action he has authorized. Kaine and others argued offensive military action without congressional approval is not constitutional absent extraordinary circumstances. A U.S. contractor died after at least 10 rockets slammed into the base early Wednesday. “If we assess further response is warranted, we will take action again in a manner and time of our choosing,” Psaki said.
Biden lauds NASA team for giving US 'dose of confidence'
President Joe Biden congratulates NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Mars 2020 Perseverance team for successfully landing on Mars during a virtual call in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, Thursday, March 4, 2021. Biden speaking in video conference call with the leadership of space agency’s jet propulsion laboratory team expressed awe over the Feb. 18 landing of Perseverance. Ad“It’s so much bigger than landing Perseverance on Mars," Biden told members of the NASA team. Ad“We can land a rover on Mars, we can beat a pandemic," Biden said. The NASA team landing on Feb. 18 marked the third visit to Mars in just over a week.
Chinese astronauts training for space station crewed flights
China says a cohort of astronauts have been selected and are in training to carry out four crewed missions this year as the country works to complete its first permanent orbiting space station. (CNSA via AP)BEIJING – China said Thursday a cohort of astronauts is training for four crewed missions this year as the country works to complete its first permanent orbiting space station. Two other modules will be launched later, along with four Tianzhou cargo supply mission and the four Shenzhou crewed missions. CNSA listed 12 astronauts training for the crewed missions, including veterans of previous Shenzhou flights, newcomers and women, though it wasn't clear if there were others selected. Once completed, the permanent space station will allow for stays of up to six months, similar to the International Space Station.
These photos on Mars are the best we’ve ever seen
The landing is part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort to explore the Red Planet. (2021 NASA)This is the first 360-degree panorama taken by Mastcam-Z, a zoomable pair of cameras aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSSThis shows the rim of Jezero Crater as seen in the first 360-degree panorama taken by the Mastcam-Z instrument aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover (Feb. 24, 2021). AdNASA’s Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its Rover Down-Look Camera. The Perseverance Mars rover landed on Mars Feb. 18, 2021.
China's Mars craft enters parking orbit before landing rover
China says its Tianwen-1 spacecraft has entered a temporary parking orbit around Mars in anticipation of landing a rover on the red planet in the coming months. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)BEIJING – China says its Tianwen-1 spacecraft has entered a temporary parking orbit around Mars in anticipation of landing a rover on the red planet in the coming months. A successful bid to land Tianwen-1 would make China only the second country after the U.S. to place a spacecraft on Mars. AdTianwen, the title of an ancient poem, means “Quest for Heavenly Truth.”Landing a spacecraft on Mars is notoriously tricky. In 2011, a Mars-bound Chinese orbiter that was part of a Russian mission didn’t make it out of Earth orbit.
NASA releases Mars landing video: 'Stuff of our dreams'
This combination of images from video made available by NASA shows steps in the descent of the Mars Perseverance rover as it approaches the surface of the planet on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. “It gives me goose bumps every time I see it, just amazing,” said Dave Gruel, head of the entry and descent camera team. After spending the weekend binge-watching the descent and landing video, the team at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, shared the video at a news conference. “These videos and these images are the stuff of our dreams," said Al Chen, who was in charge of the landing team. AdSix off-the-shelf color cameras were devoted to entry, descent and landing, looking up and down from different perspectives.
Mars landing team 'awestruck' by photo of descending rover
This Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021 photo provided by NASA shows the Perseverance rover lowered towards the surface of Mars during its powered descent. (NASA via AP)CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – The world got its first close-up look at a Mars landing on Friday, as NASA released a stunning picture of its newest rover being lowered onto the dusty red surface. NASA equipped the spacecraft with a record 25 cameras and two microphones, many of which were turned on during Thursday’s descent. It's the ninth time that NASA has successfully landed on Mars __ and the fifth rover. As it did with 2012's Curiosity rover — still roaming 2,300 miles (3,750 kilometers) away — NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter photographed Perseverance descending beneath its massive parachute.
United Arab Emirates publishes first photo from Mars probe
This Feb. 10, 2021 image taken by the United Arab Emirates' "Amal," or "Hope," probe was released Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021, shows Mars . The Hope space probe now circles the red planet. (Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center/UAE Space Agency, via AP)DUBAI – The United Arab Emirates on Sunday published the first image for its Mars probe now circling the red planet. It shows Mars' north pole, as well as Mars' largest volcano, Olympus Mons. The probe swung into orbit around Mars on Tuesday in a triumph for the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission.
There’s more than 1 way to send a spacecraft to Venus
AdIt used to be -- in the U.S.-- NASA was the only way to fund and send a robotic mission to another world, but not anymore. The company wants to send the first robotic mission to Venus in 2023. (Image credit: Rocket Lab) (Rocket Lab)Meanwhile, NASA is considering funding its own missions to the planet considered Earth’s twin. Currently there are two Venus missions under consideration and two more equally fascinating missions, one designed to study Jupiter’s moon Io and another to Neptune’s moon Triton. AdHere’s what launching a robotic mission to another planet looks like, in a nutshell, according to Wagner:“This is what a typical NASA mission is.
SpaceX launches Starship on highest test flight, crash-lands
In this screen grab from video posted by SpaceX, the company's Starship launches for a test flight, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020, in a remote area of Texas. (SpaceX via AP)CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – SpaceX launched its shiny, bullet-shaped, straight-out-of-science fiction Starship several miles into the air from a remote corner of Texas on Wednesday, but the 6 1/2-minute test flight ended in an explosive fireball at touchdown. The full-scale, stainless steel model — 160 feet (50 meters) tall and 30 feet (9 meters) in diameter — soared out over the Gulf of Mexico. The entire flight — as dramatic and flashy as it gets, even by SpaceX standards — lasted six minutes and 42 seconds. “Anybody who knows how hard this stuff is is impressed by today’s Starship test.”Two lower, shorter SpaceX test flights earlier this year from Boca Chica, Texas — a quiet coastal village before SpaceX moved in — used more rudimentary versions of Starship.
Test flight of SpaceX's Starship aborted at last second
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – The first high-altitude test flight of SpaceX’s futuristic Starship was aborted at the last second in Texas on Tuesday. SpaceX came close to launching a prototype of the rocketship that company chief Elon Musk is designing to carry people to Mars. SpaceX already has conducted five Starship test flights, but these earlier, simpler models have gone no higher than 490 feet (150 meters.) SpaceX has taken over Boca Chica in the far southeastern corner of Texas, near the Mexican border, to build and test its Starships. ___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education.
China's space ambitions: Robot on Mars, a human on the moon
The Chang’e 5, the first effort to bring lunar rocks to Earth since the 1970s, collected samples on Wednesday, the Chinese space agency announced. After astronaut Yang Liwei’s 2003 flight, space officials expressed hope for a crewed lunar mission as early as this year. Beijing's space plane would be China's version of the American Space Shuttle and the former Soviet Union’s short-lived Buran. China’s crewed missions have gone ahead without incident. Plans call for a permanent crewed space station as early as 2022.
China launches mission to bring back material from moon
A Long March-5 rocket carrying the Chang'e 5 lunar mission lifts off at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Wenchang in southern China's Hainan Province, early Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Chang’e 5 — named for the Chinese moon goddess — is the country’s boldest lunar mission yet. If successful, it would be a major advance for China’s space program, and some experts say it could pave the way for bringing samples back from Mars or even a crewed lunar mission. “Scientific needs and technical and economic conditions” would determine whether China decides to send a crewed mission to the moon, said Pei, whose comments were embargoed until after the launch. China’s space program has progressed cautiously, with relatively few setbacks in recent years.
Report: NASA needs more time, money to bring back Mars rocks
FILE - This image made available by NASA shows the planet Mars. This composite photo was created from over 100 images of Mars taken by Viking Orbiters in the 1970s. NASA is underestimating the amount of time and money it will take to bring Mars rocks back to Earth in the coming decade, an independent panel said Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. (NASA via AP)CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA is underestimating the amount of time and money it will take to bring Mars rocks back to Earth in the coming decade, an independent panel said Tuesday. Already more than halfway to Mars, NASA’s Perseverance rover will hunt for the best geologic samples, after landing in February.
Mars to appear especially bright over the next few weeks
ROANOKE, Va. – If you notice a non-blinking red ‘star’ in the night sky the next few weeks, that would be our solar system’s next-door neighbor, Mars! Mars is actually at its closest point to us (perigee) in its orbit around the sun Tuesday evening. This is the closest Mars has been to us in nearly two years, and it won’t get this close again until 2035. Now, Mars won’t be at its brightest until October 13th when it’s at opposition (directly opposite the sun). Whereas our orbit lasts 365 days, it takes Mars 687 days to make a complete lap around the sun.
Meteors, blue moon and Mars, oh my! Beautiful triple threat on tap for skywatchers
Mars will appear brighter than at any other point during the year on Oct. 13, when it will be closest to Earth. “So, a little over every two years, Mars and Earth are closest together in their orbits and, thus, Mars is at its brightest in our nighttime sky. (© 2012 Michael Orso)Blue moon on HalloweenFor the first time since 2001, trick-or-treaters will get the chance to experience a Halloween full moon. A blue moon, by the most popular definition, according to Gross, is when two full moons appear in a single month. “We will have full moons on Oct. 1 and 31, so that means that we’ll have a blue moon on Halloween,” Gross said.
Sliver of Canadian air keeps autumn locked in for the weekend
ROANOKE, Va. – This time last year, we were breaking record high temperatures. Fast forward to 2020, and autumn is actually behaving like autumn. Forecast high temperatures for Friday, 10/2/2020A clear sky at night and a calming wind will allow the limited warmth to escape, leading to a colder night ahead. Not included in the graphic below are Jeter Farm, Layman Farms, Williams Orchard, Johnson’s Orchard and so many more. By Wednesday, high temperatures will likely be around 75-80°.
China says Mars probe stable; no word on reusable spacecraft
BEIJING – China's Mars probe Tianwen-1, which blasted into space in July, is now more than 15 million kilometers (9 million miles) from Earth en route to the red planet, the National Space Administration said Saturday. The administration said that Tianwen-1 was in stable condition, having completed its first mid-course orbital correction early last month. It will be about 195 million kilometers (118 million miles) from Earth when it arrives at Mars around February, having traveled 470 million kilometers (292 million miles) in all to get there. The administration, however, has yet to release information about a mysterious reusable experimental spacecraft that returned to Earth a week ago after a two-day flight. Last year, China's Chang’e-4 became the first spacecraft from any country to land on the far side of the moon.
Elon Musk wants YOU to build a brain-computer interface
Elon Musk isn't content with electric cars, shooting people into orbit, populating Mars and building underground tunnels to solve traffic problems. His startup, Neuralink, wants to one day implant computer chips inside the human brain. In a video demonstration Friday explicitly aimed at recruiting new employees, Musk showed off a prototype of the device. Neuralink wants to build on those existing medical treatments as well as one day work on surgeries that could improve cognitive functioning, according to a Wall Street Journal article on the company's launch. That might be an easier sell than the Neuralink device, which would require recipients to agree to have the device implanted in their brain, possibly by a robot surgeon.
SpaceX's Mars test rocket makes 1st flight, landing upright
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. SpaceX launched a prototype of its Mars rocketship hundreds of feet into the air, then landed it upright in a successful test flight. Mars is looking real, SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk tweeted after the short hop. Progress is accelerating.Musk said several more short hops are planned before a test version of Starship aims for a high altitude. On Sunday, SpaceX safely returned two NASA astronauts from the International Space Station following a two-month test flight. We're going to send people to Mars and make life multi-planetary," Musk said following splashdown.
China moves rocket into place for nation's 1st Mars mission
China will launch their Mars rover and an orbiter sometime around July 23, 2020, in a mission named Tianwen, or Questions for Heaven. The Long March-5 carrier rocket is Chinas heaviest-lift launch vehicle and has been launched experimentally three times, but never with a payload. Dubbed Tianwen-1, Chinas first-ever mission to Mars aims to land a rover to gather scientific data. The mission is one of the most ambitious yet for Chinas space program, which has advanced rapidly since launching its first crewed mission in 2003. Chinas last attempt at a Mars mission in collaboration with Russia ended in failure in 2011.
NASA's next Mars rover honors medical teams fighting virus
(NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP)CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. NASAs next Mars rover is honoring all the medical workers on the front lines of the coronavirus battle around the world. With just another month until liftoff, the space agency on Wednesday revealed a commemorative plate attached to the rover, aptly named Perseverance. The rover team calls it the COVID-19 Perseverance plate, designed in the last couple months. If the rover isn't launched by mid-August, it would need to wait until 2022 when Earth and Mars are back in proper alignment. The United Arab Emirates and China also are preparing spacecraft for launch to the red planet by mid-August.
SpaceX opens era of amateur astronauts, cosmic movie sets
Amateur astronauts, private space stations, flying factories, out-of-this-world movie sets this is the future the space agency is striving to shape as it eases out of low-Earth orbit and aims for the moon and Mars. But the future is incredibly exciting, NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren said the day before SpaceXs historic liftoff. The ticket price which includes 15 weeks of training and more than a week at the space station is about $55 million. Beginning in 2024, Axiom plans to build its own addition to the 260-mile-high (420-kilometer-high) outpost to accommodate its private astronauts. SpaceX still has to get NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken safely back to Earth this summer in its Dragon capsule.
Apollo astronaut investigates massive landslide on Mars
Now, the geologist and professor is studying an extensive landslide on Mars, almost 250 miles wide, that formed about 400 million years ago. Schmitt and fellow NASA astronaut Eugene Cernan were the last men to walk on the moon with the Apollo 17 mission. "Flow initiation and mechanisms on the Moon may be very different from Mars; however, comparisons often help geologists to understand comparable features." In the case of the Martian landslide, they believed that a rapid landslide may have occurred due to layers of unstable and fragmented rock beneath the surface. "The impact redistribution of materials in the lunar environment has modified features that ultimately may be found to resemble those documented in the Martian landslide study," Schmitt said.
Elon Musk says SpaceX's Mars rocket will be cheaper than he thought
SpaceX via CNN(CNN) - The rocket and spacecraft at the center of Elon Musk's plan to colonize Mars could fly humans into orbit within one year and cost billions of dollars less than he once predicted. Both the spacecraft and rocket are expected to be reusable, which Musk said is the only way to make the vehicle affordable. "In almost any motor transport whether it's a plane or car, a horse, or bicycle it's reusable," Musk said. So the critical breakthrough that's necessary is a rapidly reusable orbital rocket." Some have suggested that even Musk's earlier estimate that it would cost $10 billion was likely low-balling what it would actually cost.
Snickers is making a special pecan bar -- just in time for fall
(CNN) - Snickers just got a fall-themed update, just in time for pecan pie season. Mars, which makes the candy bar, debuted a Snickers Pecan Bar on Wednesday, conjuring up all sorts of chocolate pecan pie vibes. We might have too many Snickers bars, honestly. The idea for this particular bar came from fans, with the company asking customers what nut they would like to see next. The Snickers Pecan Bar is also one of the only Snickers bars that doesn't include peanuts.